Our weekly newsletter Field Guide looks at how different cultures play with the same concepts—from voting and water access to movie-making and whiskey. Each issue features an original essay and give a taste of some of the best place-based writing, sounds and images from around the world.
See the latest editions of our Field Guide:
Explore (and lament) the gentrification of Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood in Elena Poniatowska's story that accompanies a series of photographs by Gala Narezo. “The elimination of a way of life in the name of progress,” Poniatowska says, “is destroying the big little things.” Gentrification is happening everywhere, from Cape Town to Berlin.
Food writer Nikhil Merchant laments the bland appropriation of his native food in the West. “The Curry Chronicles” gets to the bottom of how and why this happened, and eulogizes what Indian restaurants in the UK and US have been missing, from “scented Salans and spicy Phaals” to “rich and nutty Qormas and caramelized Do Piazas.” But India doesn’t have the monopoly on curry; curried kangaroo, anyone?
Last year, rescue companies in Nepal were exposed for operating an elaborate scam. The government promised action, but today little has changed. Nepalese writer Arun Budhathoki finds out the latest. Elsewhere, we discover the world's longest mountain range (it's not what you think it is) and find out about an ancient gene that allows certain people to thrive at altitude.
Go subterranean as we ponder the world below ground level. James Jeffrey investigates the London to which most residents of the UK capital are oblivious: the one beneath their feet, which is a maze of tunnels and history. Learn about a salt mine turned tourist attraction in Romania, and an underground city in Turkey.
Lily Idov chronicles the city's neglected museums and their engaging—if a little bizarre—artifacts (from pet dogs immortalized by a taxidermist, to the serious-looking mannequins used in the displays.) Find a Thai museum dedicated to opium, and hear about French President Emmanuel Macron's declaration that Africa’s “cultural heritage can no longer remain a prisoner of European Museums."
A look at protest movements—from Russia to Brazil, Sudan to Paris. Even under the most repressive regime, the power of the people has a way of manifesting itself. But despite that power, protests don't always lead to change .
Explore the Bolshoi ballet's real-life soap opera backstage. Discover the poetic dance of a Native American tribe designed to release the moon from captivity; learn about what is probably the world’s oldest dance and the university where dancing was banned—until relatively recently.
Rivers have long provided a source of clean water, an easy way to transport goods and a limitless supply of metaphors. But pollution and development pose significant threats to the health of rivers around the world. We examine some of the most famous rivers in the world, from potential water scarcity around the Nile to the challenges of generating energy on the Yangtze.
We all know a bit of nature can make us feel better. But interacting with the natural world isn’t just a nice way to spend an afternoon—the therapeutic and healing effects can be powerful. From our lead essay exploring the practice of “forest bathing” to the medicinal properties found in various natural substances, it’s a read best done outside.
Online social networks are boosting the popularity of modern, homegrown Russian hip-hop. Michael Idov's story and Maria Ionova-Gribina's iconic photographs uncover Russia's unique obsession with battle rap. It got us thinking about other subversive musical subcultures: the electronic music scene in Iran, for example, or clandestine house parties in North Korea. Welcome to the underground.
Consider the places where cultures meet and then mingle. Casey O'Brien contemplates the magic of Spain's Alhambra, and Grenada's history of different ethnic groups living together, while elsewhere, we learn more about Jamaican Rastafarianism and its link with Ethiopia, and Sikh culture in Argentina.
Architecture is the rare art form designed for the most massive of scales; yet we are rarely attuned to the stories behind the structure. Read about one of Russia’s most interesting artistic movements, the Paper Architects. Also, explore “Africa’s Camelot,” and discover architecture as an Olympic sport.
When we wear jewelry we rarely think of the stories behind the sparkle: the workshop where it’s fashioned; its history. Take a deeper dive into jewelry—from the earliest human adornments, to its use as currency.
Dmitry Bykov still loves Lenin Hills—a place he describes as “pure poetry.” He waxes lyrical about an area of the city that gives him unbridled joy. Also, explore some famous favorite places, and how they have cemented their place in history.
Recognizing the histories of indigenous people—and the present challenges their communities face.
What is Moscow today? Its clean, bright, renovated streets evoke European grandeur and wealth. There are more sophisticated eateries, designer boutiques and new shops. Yet while Moscow dines and dances, the state continues to repress, obfuscate and censure.
War zones as experienced by the fighters who arrive there and the people who watch their homes transform.
From the UAE, to Canada, to China, how the different challenges to creating a new home.
Celebrated in Scotland since 1802, the Burns Supper—during which friends gather to eat haggis and recite the poetry of its national poet, Robert Burns—is now an event observed the world over. We asked Scottish poet Marion McCready to explain what it’s all about.
Whiskey: it conjures up images of smoky bars and mafiosos sipping single malts, cigars in hand; or perhaps of the remote Isle of Mull and Scottish seafarers transporting barrels across the inlet to the mainland.
Kike Arnal’s photo essay chronicling Mexico City’s goth culture—as well as Rowena Bali’s illuminating essay—got us thinking about the fascinating (usually youth) subcultures that are out there.
Find out how new year is celebrated in Ecuador—a tradition that includes the burning of effigies that represent the past. But this theme of “out with the old, in with the new” is something that is replicated the world over.
Boxing Day is absolutely not an occasion for gathering around a TV and watching a world title bout. (Except when it is.) Read all about December 26th—not generally celebrated in the US, but which is a cause for more booze and food in the UK and its former colonies. Merry Day-after-Christmas.
Read an extract from Gary Nabhan’s book Cumin, Camels, and Caravans, in which the author hikes across a desert in Oman hunting down spices.
Fictio Legis, a short fiction piece by award-winning Mexican author Valeria Luiselli, leads our Guide devoted to air travel and airports. Learn the dangers of “jet blast,” the world’s shortest passenger flight and what a poet makes of airplanes used as weapons of war.
Examine how access to reliable water sources is a worldwide issue.
Celebrate man's fascination with body art—including a gallery of enticing images shot by Mexican documentary photographer Federico Gama.
From the food of the poor to the food of the rich, the mollusk has been immortalized by everyone from Lewis Carroll to Shakespeare. Alexander Wooley investigates the fascinating (and unlikely) journey of Namibian oysters.
From the popularity of pre-Hispanic libations to the crush of traffic to the popularity of bullfighting, get a glimpse of both the vibrance and the darkness of the Mexican capital.
The act of voting around the world: Zimbabwean writer and political analyst Jacquelin Kataneksza on the power of the vote—even when it doesn’t immediately bring the change you want.
Why journalists embrace “diner journalism” during campaign season, “hologram campaigns” in India, and stadium rallies in Iran, where candidates are “treated like rock stars.”
Two museums, two very different takes on events that profoundly affected the countries involved.
Read about Kampala's thriving film scene, China's first film studio and the first feature film from Australia.
We meet an artist who lived in a floating egg—yes, an egg—as well a city on stilts and experiences of water's healing power and meaning.
From the Wayuu of Colombia to the Thar women of India, meet those around the world who live on the arid, rugged land.
Discover the countries where a majority of residents live alone, meet the Last True Hermit and learn what it's like to set sail with nothing but a fishing rod and a laptop.
Outer Mongolia, Siberia, Afghanistan, Nigeria. Certain places have become synonymous with remoteness, boredom, danger or simply somewhere you just wouldn’t want to go. But what’s the real story?
Korean pop in Morocco; Mexico's San Juan Chamula; Summoning smells of Indian cuisine from a new home in Paris.
Taking a look at the do-it-yourself attitude that drives disaster victims to become their own rescuers.
Social media and fancy camera phones mean there are few parts of the world left unphotographed and hashtagged. Welcome to #ArmchairTravel2.0
For centuries, the night has been writerly shorthand for sadness, evil or death, but the time between dusk and dawn is restorative.
Food is an integral part of culture, and as cultures change and blend with others, new takes on traditional cuisines emerge.
Geopolitical gamesmanship on a massive scale, what it means to play for Nigeria and why Greenland can't join in on all the fun.
In recent years, indigenous African traditions—such as Vodun, Candomblé, Lucumí (sometimes called Santería) and others—have seen a resurgence, as young people across the African diaspora try to reconnect with their spiritual roots.
The public spaces where we bury our dead.
Refugees often live in temporary camps that can become permanent homes. Many make dangerous journeys on foot or makeshift boats, only to face more uncertainty.
From the peaceful pastime to the booming industry, the many ways to examine catching fish.
Just what is the difference between tourists and travelers?